"I really dislike my job!"
"You have been saying that for a long time. You can find a different job, you know!"
"Yes, but... the money's pretty good here."
Have you ever had a conversation like that before? Are you the one who doesn't like your job? And, are you the one who has lots of "yes, buts" to explain why you're still in work that doesn't fit you? Yes, but...I have a good salary and benefits...I like my co-workers...this is the only work I've ever done...it's close to home...it's familiar...I don't know what else I could do.
If you are currently job hunting, you probably also have a "comfort zone" for doing job search work. Often, people just choose passive job search activities such as responding to Internet job board postings and sending out resumes. They may resist more pro-active strategies such as those needed for getting into the hidden job market, using newer techniques involving social networking, revamping their resume or learning how to showcase their strengths when interviewing. Their "yes, but...this is how I've always done job search work" typically leads to discouragement and blaming themselves and/or the current job market for their inability to get interviews or a job. "Yes, buts" are powerful tools for keeping us stuck!
Your Comfort Zone Can Be a Danger Zone
If you have a ready list of "yes, buts," you are likely entrenched in your "comfort zone," which is a place most of us find ourselves at one time or another. Each of us creates a "comfort zone" for ourselves that is made up of familiar people, places, things, activities, and habits. We feel at home there. While it's an understandable place to find yourself, it can also be a dangerous place. Being mired in your comfort zone can cause you to lose out on getting the most out of life.
Staying stuck in your comfort zone can lead to missing out on becoming the person God created you to be; never doing the things God designed you to do; and feeling a deep sense of regret at the end of your life. That's a high price to pay for being "comfortable." The good news is that it isn't hard to stretch the boundaries of your comfort zone so that you can respond to God's calling on your life.
Getting Comfortable with Change
Many of us tend to resist anything that threatens the status quo of our comfort zone. Even thinking about making changes in your life may make you feel anxious. Is your natural response to steer clear of change? Do you tend to choose the known over the less familiar? Do you think that "risk" is a four-letter word that should be avoided at all costs? If so, consider taking a fresh look at inviting changes into your life.
Jesus never hesitated calling people to leave the comfort zone of their familiar lives for the unfamiliar path of following Him. Why? Because He knew He was calling them to something much, much better. Jesus extends the same summons to you. Even if your physical address may stay the same, God inevitably will require you to change and expand the boundaries of your comfort zone if you are going to live as His disciple.
Little Steps Lead to Big Results
Fear, of course, is the main reason we resist change. Fear is a powerful "calling blocker," keeping us from living into our God-given potential. Fear can range from a mild anxiety to an incapacitating paralysis. God knows that we are fearful creatures, which is why the single command occurring most often in Scripture is "Fear not!" As John Ortberg says, "fear is the number one reason human beings are tempted to avoid doing what God asks them to do."
So how can you avoid being stuck in your comfort zone? How can you deal with those fears that tempt you to bury your talents and ignore God's summons? How can you move forward into discovering and living God's calling for your life? Here are two key words: Start small. You don't need to take giant strides that feel overwhelming! Little, do-able, "bite-sized" steps can get you moving forward. Little steps create a momentum that make it much easier to take bigger steps.
"Start Small" Suggestions for Expanding Your Comfort Zone
1. Examine your comfort zone. Write down any ways you feel trapped by your comfort zone. What are the "yes, buts" that tend to keep you stuck (and fearful about making changes)? Think about why these factors have such a powerful hold on you.
2. List the changes you would like to make. What changes would you make in your work and life if you were guaranteed that you would be successful?
3. Write down all the benefits you can imagine of making these changes in your life. Often, we tend to dwell on the perceived cost of making changes without ever considering what we will gain by moving forward.
4. Practice affirming biblical truths. Faith is the opposite of fear. The more our minds dwell on biblical truths that build faith and trust in God, the less room there is for fear to become entrenched. See Philippians 4:13, Ephesians 3:16, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Ephesians 6:10-11; and, 2 Timothy 1:7. How do these promises relate to making positive changes in your life?
5. Do at least one new thing a week. This can be as simple as driving to work a new way, ordering a new entrée from a menu, reading about careers that are interesting to you or volunteering to do something new at your church or in your community. Each new action expands your comfort zone. When you habitually do new things, you prove to yourself that change is possible...and even enjoyable!
If you are ready to make some positive changes in your life, we can help! If you would like to discuss your current situation, and how professional career counseling/coaching can help you get out of your comfort zone and into the life God is calling you to live, we invite you to sign up for a free consultation session. Many people have found that professional guidance and support are invaluable in helping them to discover and live their God-given potential. If you would like to discuss how professional career coaching can help you, sign up for a free consultation session today!
Excerpts from Live Your Calling (2005) by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck. Used by permission of Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint.